Exploring the Essence of Intelligence

Intelligence has always fascinated me. What exactly is it? How do we define it? For centuries, philosophers and scientists have grappled with these questions, often focusing solely on humans as the benchmark for intelligence. Unfortunately, many still do, as it is our natural human response. But let’s set aside those biases and consider: Is intelligence limited to us? Are we the sole possessors of this undefinable trait?

So, why do we confine our definition of intelligence to human beings? Are we arrogantly clinging to our position at the center of the universe? It’s time to broaden our perspective, to acknowledge the diverse forms of intelligence that exist beyond our self-centered species.

In today’s world, technology has reached remarkable heights. Computers can plan, and AI systems can outperform humans in certain tasks. Yet, we hesitate to label them as intelligent. We even ridicule those who call these computers intelligent. But why? What are we searching for in intelligence that we cannot find? Years ago, nobody would have imagined that large language models (LLMs) could exist, and invalidate Turing tests. Should we consider LLMs intelligent, or do we dismiss them as mere computations? The answer eludes me. What I see is a double standard and emotional reasoning behind our notion of intelligence.

Now, let’s venture into a less explored direction. Perhaps what we’re missing is the connection to other aspects of being alive. Consider this: Real intelligence is not solely about problem-solving or logical reasoning in a limited time-space continuum. It surpasses algorithms and computations. True intelligence involves our capacity to shape our own destiny, exercise agency, experience the world, and uncover patterns yet unseen. It encompasses our ability to feel, abstract, plan, and respond. But for what purpose? Intelligence lacks meaning without a connection to being alive and having loosely defined purposes.

Consider this thought experiment: You possess unrivaled intelligence, but devoid of any feeling or connection to the world. You exist without needs. What would you do with your intelligence? What goals would you strive for? Without a purpose to pursue, intelligence becomes inconsequential. It becomes meaningful only when intertwined with needs to satisfy. Thus, intelligence cannot be defined without understanding the entity that wields it and the needs it seeks to fulfill.

Therefore, in reality, the entity that possesses human-like intelligence, which we relentlessly seek, may not follow the same path of action as humans. Consequently, we, as humans, may not classify it as intelligent. The divergence lies in its distinct goals and purposes, diverging from our own. As a result, true intelligence remains elusive until we attain a comprehensive understanding of the entity wielding it. However, comprehending the inner workings of humanity remains a distant endeavor. Are our actions driven solely by ancient survival instincts, an insatiable desire for control, or something else? The answer eludes me.